Student helps make a difference for disadvantaged communities to enter Higher Education

Sayyed Manzer

A Department of Social Policy and Intervention (DSPI) student is playing a leading role in an initiative helping disadvantaged people from South Asia enter Higher Education.

Sayyed Manzer, a Chevening Scholar, is a co-founder and Strategy and Innovation Lead at the initiative Project EduAccess, which is helping applicants from India with university applications for 2022-23, with aims to expand the scheme for other countries.

It puts around 250 mentors from leading UK and US universities, who have pursued or received offers to pursue postgraduate degrees in touch with students to help with university and scholarship applications.

Successful pilot

A pilot saw 30 students receive help applying for the University applications and Chevening Scholarships, with seven successful in receiving full scholarships and admissions to universities in the UK and US, and eight awaiting results after progressing to a final interview round for a Chevening Scholarship. The initiative has had 600 applications for help applying for 2022-23.

‘I believe Project EduAccess is helping remove barriers and improve opportunities for students from marginalised communities,’ said Manzer, who is studying an MSc in Evidence-Based Social Intervention and Policy Evaluation (EBSIPE).

Social, economic, and educational capital all play a big role in your merit and whether you make it into Higher Education abroad. I understand these challenges as I belong to one of the most socially, educationally and economically disadvantaged communities in India. We hope this mentorship scheme is a small step in bridging the gap.’


Project EduAccess is a partnership between University of Oxford and University of Cambridge students and includes students from the Faculty of Law, Blavatnik School of Government, Faculty of History, and Oxford School of Global and Area Studies. For social and cultural sensitivity, it has identified eight underrepresented learner groups to work with, including people with disabilities, women and gender minorities, and LGBTQ+.

Manzer thanked Dr Ben Chrisinger, Associate Professor of Evidence-Based Policy Evaluation, and EBSIPE Admissions Tutor, for his support.

He said: ‘The core subjects of EBSIPE, specifically social intervention and community analysis and large-scale intervention, have helped me bring a nuanced understanding of the social problem we are trying to address.

DSPI strongly advocates equity and social justice, which are also the core values of Project EduAccess, and being part of the University of Oxford means we can tap into the strength of volunteer and community networks, and we will also be looking to, ultimately, improve education policies in South Asia.